Raytheon UK anti-drone hub based in Scotland

July 19, 2022


A major European centre for high-energy, anti-drone laser weaponry is to be based in Livingston, Scotland, the large defence firm, Raytheon UK, has announced.

According to the BBC, the company said the “advanced laser integration centre” would open next year to help meet growing demand for laser weapons designed to destroy unmanned aircraft.

Raytheon said the conflict in Ukraine, caused by the Russian invasion, illustrated the threat posed by the laser weaponry.

It is hoped in time that the Livingston base will create hundreds of jobs, although the workforce will initially be small.

The Scottish operation is to focus its work on the testing, fielding and maintenance of defensive high-energy laser (HEL) weapons.

Raytheon’s anti-drone lasers are small enough to be fitted to military vehicles.

Last year, Raytheon was awarded a demonstrator contract to provide a high-energy laser weapon system to the Uunited Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), to be installed on the UK Wolfhound land vehicle, the company said.

According to the BBC report, it claims that “demand is spiking for cost-effective lasers” able to defeat “asymmetric” threats from drones, rockets and mortars.

Small commercial drones, which the weapons are designed to defend against, have demonstrated their military effectiveness in Ukraine, directing and correcting artillery fire and, in some cases, being modified to carry explosives.

Speaking from the Farnborough Airshow, Annabel Flores, Raytheon’s president of electronic warfare systems, told the BBC some of the additional interest and demand for the technology was as a result of how drones had been used in the conflict.

She said: “The thought is coming into how do you defend against them effectively, making our ongoing conversations with customers much deeper and much more pronounced.”

HEL weapons had advantages, she added, particularly the cost per shot.

To illustrate this, she said that the military ordnance can be very expensive, drones and quadcopters are in the £84 range.

The Raytheon executive said that once the system is connected to a power supply, it can be kept running.

But the weapons do not resemble the lasers of popular sci-fi movies, as their drone-destroying beams are invisible.

Flores added: “Hollywood makes it look very, very interesting and very dramatic. And this is a little different. It can look a little anti-climatic.”

Raytheon says the laser system has 20,000 hours of operational use, but Flores would not be drawn on whether the system had been “used in anger” yet. Initially, the number of jobs created by the new centre is likely to be small, but could increase to potentially “hundreds of jobs”.

That will depend on many factors of course, but the company believes that high-energy lasers could make up as much as 30% of of future air defence infrastructure.

While the firm would not be drawn on how much it would ultimately invest – citing pending financial results – it has already spent about £20m developing the Livingston site, the BBC understands.

It said the announcement was a “statement of faith” in both the UK’s engineering sector and the important nature of the technology.


According to its website, Raytheon Technologies Corporation is an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military and government customers worldwide. With four industry-leading businesses ― Collins Aerospace Systems, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Raytheon Missiles & Defense ― the company delivers solutions that push the boundaries in avionics, cybersecurity, directed energy, electric propulsion, hypersonics and quantum physics. The company, formed in 2020 through the combination of Raytheon Company and the United Technologies Corporation aerospace businesses, is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.

To find out more about the Rayteheon companies and the the work that they do, go to www.rtx.com


Livingston is the largest town in West Lothian, Scotland. Designated in 1962, it is the fourth post-war new town to be built in Scotland. Taking its name from a village of the same name incorporated into the new town, it was originally developed in the then-counties of Midlothian and West Lothian. It is situated approximately fifteen miles (25 km) west of Edinburgh and thirty miles (50 km) east of Glasgow, and is close to the towns of Broxburn to the north-east and Bathgate to the north-west.

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